Vaginal Mesh Suit Summarily Dismissed

A Minnesota federal judge has summarily dismissed the lawsuit of a California woman who alleges that the Coloplast Corporation’s vaginal mesh product caused her significant injuries. According to the order issued on July 19, all of Angela Dawn Cantrell’s claims were dismissed along with significant portions of her expert witnesses’ testimonies, Law360 reported.

A summary judgment can be thought of as a trial on paper. In order for a motion for summary judgment to proceed, both sides must agree that all the facts relevant to the case are not in dispute. Once agreed, both sides submit their best arguments for why the law favors their side, accepting all of their opponent’s claims, with the judge eventually deciding the outcome.

In her 45-page order, U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright addressed the case in full from Coloplast’s objections about Cantrell’s witnesses to jurisdictional disputes between the parties and dismissed Cantrell’s claims of negligent design, strict liability design defect, and failure to warn. Judge Wright granted Coloplast’s request for summary judgment and dismissed the claims against the corporation.

The first issue raised by Coloplast was with the five expert witnesses that Cantrell intended to produce to testify about the defectiveness of the corporation’s Restorelle L surgical mesh device: Dr. Alan Garely, Dr. Jimmy Mays, Dr. Peggy Pence, Dr. Susan Theut, Dr. Bruce Rosenzweig, and Dr. William Gold. While these experts did have relevant areas of academic specialization, ranging from PhDs in material science to urogynecology, Judge Wright found parts of their testimony to be unsubstantiated, inadequate, or unhelpful to a jury. In her order, she dismissed parts of each expert’s testimony with the exception of Dr. Garley whose testimony was excluded in full.

Judge Wright’s order also addressed the issue of state laws. Cantrell argued that since Coloplast was headquartered in Minnesota, the Restorelle L was made and designed in Minnesota, and therefore, Minnesota law should apply. Coloplast argued that since Cantrell is a resident of California and was implanted in California, California law should decide the case.

Minnesota law recognizes strict liability claims for medical devices such as transvaginal meshes while California does not. This means that the law chosen for the case could materially affect the level of scrutiny of Cantrell’s claims and whether or not Coloplast’s mental state would be relevant to the charges. After acknowledging that both states had sufficient contact to be “neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair,” Judge Wright decided that California law would more aptly apply.

With the expert testimony qualified and the set of laws decided, Judge Wright moved on to Coloplast’s request for summary judgment.

In this case, Judge Wright held that since the specific-causation testimony of Dr. Theut and Dr. Gold was excluded and California law was being applied, Cantrell’s claims of negligent design, strict liability, and failure to warn were without merit. According to Law360, Cantrell’s attorney Aaron M. Levine called the outcome “a disgrace.”

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